With the holidays quickly approaching, season three of NBC’s The Sing-Off is rapidly (and musically) coming to a close. After an impressive two seasons, ran only during the past two Decembers, ratings allowed for enough steam to expand the season into 11 episodes. On November 21, the remaining four groups, Pentatonix, Urban Method, Darthmouth Aires, and Afro Blue, took to the stage performing mashups and a judge’s choice number. For the first time this season, voting opened up (and continues through this week) to the viewing public, which gives America the chance to crown the new champions.
In a conference call November 21, host Nick Lachey, judge and singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles, and executive producer Joel Gallen discussed favorite themed weeks, former judge Nicole Scherzinger, show duties, and what to expect from possible collaborations.
With the expanded 11 show schedule, Gallen is able to explore a myriad of musical genres, including two favorites, “Guilty Pleasure” and a double challenge of Rock and Country. “The most fun one, of course, was the ‘Guilty Pleasure’ one, and I think the most challenging one was the double challenge we did [of] Rock and Country,” he revealed.
This double challenge allowed most groups to stretch the boundaries of their respective vocal arrangements. Although the two genres were out of the wheel house of most groups, they “really delivered” interesting and complex performances. Lachey, much like Gallen, applauded the Country performances, but also noted that hip-hop week was a highlight of the show.
As far as “wow” moments on the show, Gallen listed numerous magical stage moments that had him star struck, including Pentatonix’s “Love Lockdown” and “Let’s Get It On,” Delilah’s “Grenade,” and Urban Method’s “I Love the Way You Lie.” Those performances, he gushed, were some of “the best we’ve ever seen.” Lachey, on the other hand, discussed his gratitude with not having to be on the tough decision-making end of the deal, saying that the talent was so phenomenal this season that the competition was “so close to call.” Undoubtedly, in its third season, The Sing-Off continues to nuture a comeback niche.
When asked what he plans to have accomplished with this season, Gallen hopes that he has left “some type of impression on the audience.” Because a cappella singing is such a specific type of performance, Gallen feels that “we’ve proven ourselves as far as a viable music series.” With more music and more groups, the show has been able to chart new territory never explored before on a reality TV singing competition. The most satisfying aspect of the show? “For me, [it] would be is if whoever our champion is could actually have some success and find an audience and sell some records.” Also, he notes his desire for the winning group to cultivate a fan base that will go to concerts and still listen to their music after the show. That is always the toughest part of shows like this.
Bareilles, who is serving her first year on the judging panel, was pretty willing to discuss her experience and how it has changed her perspective. The show, she begins, “broadened my horizons in a lot of different ways.” Going into this season, she had no idea what to expect or what she was getting into on TV. She then hints that what she loves about this show is that there is such a strong foundation of people who sincerely want the best for the contestants. First and foremost, “I’m sitting here as a fan getting a front row performance every night.” With being able to navigate her way through the season, she is extremely proud of her work and the show. She goes on to mention that the feedback she has received about the show is mostly positive and that there are so many fans out there that are truly passionate and connected with the remaining groups.
The advice she gives for the groups, and anyone trying to find their footing in the music industry, is that “it’s all about finding your authentic self and really nurturing that.” She notes that too many up and coming artists “get really distracted by what’s already out there” and lose sight of why they are passionate about music in the first place. Being unique is the key. The main thing that working on this show has done for her, she continues, is that it has fueled her inspiration for her own music. She says she’s going through a “really big sort of creative spurt” at the moment. Her new single, “Love is Christmas,” dropped on November 21.
The voting, which was recently opened up for America, will not see any changes in the near future, Gallen discusses. As of now, the viewing public has the chance to crown the season champs, and when asked if the voting might start earlier in future seasons, Gallen said no. He wants to “maximize the best talent pool,” which primarily is dipped from college-age performers. It would be too much to ask, he goes on, for them to take a whole semester off from school. Most of the filming for the show occurs late summer and early fall. With the expanded season, viewers definitely get to become more connected to the groups by the time voting swings around.
On that note, Gallen wasn’t too worried about the longer season competition with the new U.S. version of The X-Factor. “I can’t say, you know, we were totally confident” going into this season. Despite an incredibly tough market place, he has been able to sit comfortably in such a specific niche. The reviews that have come in this season have been of “constant praise,” and “[we're] bracing ourselves hopefully for a surge over the next couple of weeks.” He ended with perhaps the best line of the conference call: “The best thing I should say about The X-Factor is that it helped us land Sara as a judge.”
As far as replacing former judge Nicole Scherzinger on the panel, Bareilles “didn’t psyche [herself] out,” mentioning that her and Scherzinger are two different kinds of entertainers and artists. The “Love Song” singer says she completely respects what the Pussy Cat Doll brought to the show and didn’t try to fill her shoes. Bareilles brings a varied edge to the critiques, and as her first finale as a judge gets closer, she’s “thrilled that we’re going fully live.” Bareilles is no stranger to The Sing Off finale as she performed during season two.
Don’t worry fans; November 28 is not the end of your a cappella obsession. The Sing-Off Christmas, which will air a week later on December 5, will bring together your favorite groups from this season and seasons past, along with special appearances by the judges. Lachey says that this special will be a “great chance for us to collaborate and all have fun together.” Talking collaborations, Bareilles and Lachey are huge fans of each others’ work and are not opposed to working together on new music in the future. They just like to keep their fans on their toes.
So, are your excited for The Sing-Off finale and Christmas special?